Source: The Associated Press
raq's prime minister sought safeguards Sunday for small religious communities in this mainly Muslim country as Christians protested parliament's decision to stop setting aside seats for minorities on provincial councils.
In Baghdad, a series of explosions struck mostly Shiite areas, killing at least 32 people and wounding nearly 100, police said. The attacks appeared aimed at reviving sectarian tensions that once threatened to plunge the nation into civil war.
Parliament last week approved a new law mandating elections in most of Iraq's 18 provinces. But the law removed a system that reserved a few legislative seats for Christians and other religious minorities.
Lawmakers cited a lack of census data to determine what the quotas should be. But many Christians saw the move as an effort to marginalize their community.
"I think that some political groups are pushing the remaining Christians to leave Iraq," worshipper Afram Razzaq-Allah said after services at a Catholic church in Baghdad. "They want us to feel that we are no longer Iraqis."
In a letter sent to parliament Sunday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to the legislators and the electoral commission to restore the quota system.
"The minorities should be fairly represented in the provincial councils and their rights should be guaranteed," al-Maliki wrote.
Hundreds of Christians staged street protests after Sunday church services in and around Mosul, a northern city where many of the country's Christians live. Some said the removal of the quotas is an attempt to force them to leave Iraq.